Quality control can be a tricky part of running a small business. Unlike big business, who can put in place expensive quality systems, sometimes you just don't have the money and time in a small business to invest in those systems.
So what do you do?
There are some really simple and important measures you can put in place that will get the job done, provided you're willing to include quality management as part of running your business.
Here's some tips we've gleaned from over ten thousand interviews with business owners.
If you want to know more, you can of course enrol in our business ownership courses or engage one of our experienced, mature business advisors.
Get these right, and you'll be a long way towards handling this issue, which can be a significant reason for business failure.
Have a quality standard - it is important to set the standard up front for what you are trying to achieve. It's a benchmark if you will of the ideal quality you want for your product. It doesn't matter if you're making an artisan tomato chutney, or running a service business in cleaning - a known quality standard is the first step.
Sometimes in a product business, you can literally have a sample of the product that meets your standards sitting in the production area for people to compare to. In services, it might be a written statement of the quality - for instance what a lawn looks like after your company has mowed it.
You can also survey potential customers to understand what level of quality they expect from your service. If you're running a cleaning business, spotless windows and clean floors might be a key part of this. Not missing dusting the objects on a shelf might be important.
After you've set a quality standard - making sure you can deliver this standard profitably - you need to put in place a system for checking the quality - maybe it's sampling each batch, or having a post service checklist that your staff use to check key elements of a job they've done. Either way it's a regular check against your set standards to ensure all jobs meet what you are aiming for.
The final component of a good quality system is then correcting the quality if it is found to be lacking compared to the set standard. It is important to know you are correcting both the product/service AND the person who made it/delivered it. In this way you handle the two key areas of maintaining quality - the product and the process.
Covering these three areas, you'll be a long way to having a business operating and delivering good quality as often as possible.
And delivering on your quality standard is a bit like delivering on a promise. If a customer gets what was promised they are much more likely to be happy and to refer you to others.
Enjoy the journey.